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Warns housewives about the effects of cleaning clothes with Gasoline.
This movie is part of the collection: Prelinger Archives
Audio/Visual: sound, b&w
Creative Commons license: Public Domain
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|More Dangerous Then Dynamite||
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|More Dangerous Then Dynamite||
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Freestone Slice -
Subject: As seen in "Beautiful World"
The woman on fire (terrible, terrible cartoon fire) was shown as one of many old film clips watched by Booji Boy in the music video for Devo's "Beautiful World." While I'd wager almost all of the old film footage from that video is available somewhere in the Internet Archive, the woman on fire is especially noteworthy. According to Wikipedia, that clip was taken out when the video ran on ABC's "Countdown" for being unsuitable for the show's timeslot.
This is all a bit of a surprise to me. I thought the flames were added to the clip specifically for the music video. The idea that a woman consumed by cartoon fire was supposed to be taken seriously seems a bit much to me - but maybe it's one of those things that was different back in the day.
Subject: "does not fully realize the explosive power"
The music was obviously shared (or stolen) from various other film companies, or taken from a common depository: The intro sound is the same as for "Bank Alarm" and the ending music is the same for just about every "Grand National Picture".
All the initial explosions are a little questionable: Who 'dry cleans' on a bridge or in a moving car?!
The "Bulletin", while a nice piece of architecture, has one of the most hilariously ungrammatical sentences I've seen in a film: "EVERY YEAR FROM ACCIDENTS IN THEIR OWN HOMES!".
Some of the advice dispensed is a little questionable. Most places ban burning things, even in an "approved incinerator"
Since we have newspaper intertitles, we have fake articles filling. Some of these are more interesting than the actual "news": "Superstituous in Panic in Central Asia"; "Fire Whistle Sticks to End Quiet Evening", "DIOGENES IS A SWEET 13 ME..."
Right above "Fire Whistle" we see "Control Perfect"; viewers of "Below the Deadline" should recognize that headline.
"Judge Denies Motion on Narcotic Evidence"; "3000 Additional Japanese Troops Arrive in China"; "Political Placards' Removal Is Asked By Zoning Director".
When you're looking @ the ridiculously generic plaque ("Reputable"), notice the shadow and watch as the camera pans... I think someone was just holding that there!
Why does the one worker at the dry cleaners prop the door open with a gas can!?
The "explosion" that's supposedly more forceful than dynamite didn't even break the window.
Where's the "Distributed by..." frame as promised from the thumbnails?
Subject: A must see!
I think everyone else has said it all, but must put in my 2 cents.
Quite interesting if a little campy. The advice was good, but the film must have been made by a Dry Cleaner Assoc. or something.
I didn't completely crack up until the screaming lady came running out covered in cartoon fire.
L Wilton is right. People had hard choices to make in the Depression. Spuzz implies that this was the 1950s, but it's obviously not; you can tell clearly by looking at the woman's hairstyle and the design of the cars. I believe my grandparents, who were children on farms in the Depression (and back then, I don't know how else people could have been able to get grease and grime off their farm equipment and hands), were taught by their parents to clean with gasoline because my father still cleaned grease, paint, etc. off his hands that way when I was young and taught me at the time to do it. It worried me vaguely and I remember being glad when he finally started buying safe, orange, hand-cleaner, the kind mechanics use.
Subject: It's nice to be reminded...
...of those days when our government did its best to educate its citizens regarding reality.
While the production techniques and subject matter may be dated or even comical to people today who would never think of using volatile liquids to clean clothes, rest assured that the average American does many things just as dangerous or more so out of simple ignorance.
The earlier review which stated - "These days of course you laugh at those silly choices. Just get a new shirt. If you don't have the money, the government will give you some. And if you like the old shirt with the rips and stains, heck, wear it to work as a bank teller. If you get fired you and your lawyer will be rolling in hog heaven for the next fifty years at the bank's expense." - is an example of such ignorance.
This filmstrip was obviously produced when the United States had a liberal government that upheld its responsibility to protect its citizenry through consumer education. (HINT-The makers of thatrelatively new product "gasoline" were certainly not going to tell consumers not to use it in the illustrated manner.)
The writer of the noted quote would certainly benefit from such a government filmstrip today designed to educate the consumer concerning the truth about "money from the government" and the extreme limitations of our current workplace protections. The naivete of our great-grandparents' use of gasoline as a cleaning solvent pales in comparison to that demonstrated by that reviewer.
Possible the most enjoyable thing I have seen in years.
The whole bizarre idea of thousands of house-wifes washing their clothes in petrol was unexpected.
The final "case study" of the woman who was washing her clothes in petrol near an open flame, only to be done in by a static spark was the film's highlight. I fell off my chair the first time I saw it.
It's so over the top - "Every day ambulances pick up victims of gasoline fires".
Definately worth the download - especially the drawn in flames on the poor house-wife.
what can i say that hasn't been said already? awesome! 5/5!
Subject: oh my gersh
I remember reading or seeing something before about women cleaning with gasoline and saying in my head, "What are you doing?! Oh my gosh stop!"
This pretty much made me even more scared.
The cartoon flames though were a nice touch.
Subject: Times REALLY Are that Different
This file is a good historical testament. This sort of material was common for short subjects back in the days of the Great Depression. I've read the reviews and see how naive the kids are these days. If you're under 35 or so, you've probably never seen graphic newspaper headlines. The editors, even of the tabloids like the New York Daily News, have made the writers tone down the graphic qualities of headlines and copy. It wasn't like that in the newspapers or even the radio 40-50 years ago. I would hear things like "the knife pierced her heart" on the radio back then. Those of you who are 60 or over, I'm sure could tell of the "sensationalism" of the newspapers and the hue and cry that occurred in the 1950s and the 1960s, and the consequent changes in journalism.
If any of you do historical research into primary sources, you will see that nearly all material that is 50 years old or older rarely took "political correctness" into account. Sometimes, one could see this in feature films of the era. Take a look at the 1933 title "King Kong" to see how America thought in those times, or even something as potentially innocuous as old Marx Brothers pictures. Could anyone imagine doing a sequence like "All God's Children Have Rhythm" now?
All right, the special effect of flames does look really bad now. Actors did not go in asbestos suits back then. We didn't know about silicosis, either. But, it was the Great Depression back then. Anyone born past 1940 does not know how bad times were at first hand. My parents do. Movies were a dime for a double feature but that dime was still so hard to come by. One-quarter of the labor force was out of work for YEARS! We get all worked up when one-tenth is that way these days; that's been 25 years since even THAT has happened. It was that bad concerning employers back then; they had every reason to fire anyone, when there were so many replacement workers available. And, employers still can do just about anything they want; unions are weaker now. Labor-management laws still base their jurisprudence on the old "master-slave" relationship. Employment is still "at will" for the vast majority of employees; it is more explicit on employment applications now, that's all.
Dry cleaners were a rather new business in those days. They first used inflammable materials like the naphthas, then they went to more "inert" materials like carbon tetrachloride. Sure, it don't blow up, it's a slow poison instead. We still have hazardous waste sites from old dry cleaning establishments because of the solvents they used. Thank our lucky stars that the technology around dry cleaning has improved vastly since the 1930s. As many of you know, the storefront that takes your suit actually contracts with the actual dry cleaner, a central facility that does work for everyone in the area, cheaper and less hazardous for the business owner. How many of you can find a tailor now, though, at that dry cleaning establishment? Things change, not always necessarily for the better.
Everyone, except the very rich or the foolish, kept everything as long as humanly possible. No one thought of throwing away things because it "went out of style" or because of defect. There was a city dump, or people burned their trash (illegal in most states now). It was legal to pick the dump in those days (my home town has already made it illegal in the 1960s), and people would find stuff all the time. In my area, eastern Massachusetts, land is too scarce and expensive now. The local governments have capped all the dumps now.
Gasoline was cheap then; we were depending on domestic production, something that hasn't been around for nearly 40 years now. It still took a good part of a day's pay to get a gallon but it was so useful as a solvent. The film showed a lot of other hazards that existed in the home. People let stuff get really old; the replacement cost was too high. It still happens now. People will do all sorts of thing to take themselves out of the gene pool. Just because everyone goes to college, rather than the top 10% or so, doesn't mean they are any smarter. In those days, people with an eighth grade education could make change. We've had cash registers that calculate change for over 20 years now. What does that tell about the education of children?
To the young who assert that NO ONE would do such stupid things: believe me, they still do. People will still stick their fingers into the dispose-all, lose fingers to the Skillsaw, zap themselves on electric lines. We just had a story here in Boston about someone who trespassed onto Amtrak property and got a hold of the 11,000 volt line. There ain't much left of a body after touching one of those.
I hope people will keep such material around. We need to keep track of where we came from, and how we got to be here now. Thanks for reading this essay.
Subject: Cheezy News Headlines
I read the headlines about women disfigured for life, etc. I doubt news articles got that personal about a fire victim's prognosis nor about how the person died. They would say "Fire victim laid to rest" or "Woman survives disfiguring fire".
As for comments from lwilton I think it is a stretch to say there would be a job loss due to an ink stain- even in the Great Depression. There was no reason at all to clean clothes dangerously- none! It was an attractive option, and a necessary one, to cut corners but doing this dangerously isn't what everyone did.
Subject: Fire Apparatus in this movie
For anyone who may have an interest in the emergency vehicles shown in "More Dangerous Than Dynamite," the Los Angeles Fire Department Task Force (a two piece engine company and a ladder company) that is shown responding in the sequence after the housewife on fire is led by a 1937 American La France sedan-cab, triple combination pumper, followed by what I believe was one of the 1926 Seagrave hose wagons (definitely a Seagrave), followed by a 1923 Seagrave aerial ladder truck. The ambulance in the next scene is one of the L.A. hospital system ambulances built by Crown Coach on an Auburn chassis (circa late 20s or early 30s). (The same L.A. based Crown Coach Corporation that built school buses and fire engines).
Subject: I quite liked the design features
Most people have spoken about the content of the film and the special effects. A fair amount of the film talked about the safety design features of a state-licensed dry cleaning factory. I thought that was pretty interesting.
Subject: This stuff true
i think they showed these kind of movies at the theater. they showed a -lot of news-reals cartoons etc before the feature film.
Probably the most dangerous one that still holds true is standing next to somethings that hot.
Subject: And everyone misses the key facts
First, this film was produced and funded by the California State Fire Marshall, NOT by the Reputable Dry Cleaning company. The Reputable company was a fake name on a studio set. The scenes in the dry cleaning establishment were filmed in some other company, and probably in part in a FD training tower.
Second, ALL the special effects in this movie are cheezy by modern standards. They cost money, and were difficult and dangerous to do back in the 1930s; especially burning people if you wanted to be able to use them again tomorrow. Believe it or not, people in those days would have realized the burning dress was a cheezy special effect too. What they also would have realized, and modern people are seemingly immune to, is that there would have been REAL flames on a REAL person, and they wouldn't go away with an eraser.
Third, this film covers a lot more than just home dry cleaning. It covers all of the most standard ways that people managed to burn down their houses and often kill themselves back then.
Pennies in the fuse holder were common. Frayed cords were common. They were cloth covered back then, and often stretched across the floor. You just think about what might happen with two live wires insulated with a turn of cotton when someone dances across them on the floor. People didn't think about it back then until it happened.
Dry cleaning with gas was common in the depression. It was common before the depression too. Home dry cleaning was common after the depression. You used to be able to buy home dry-cleaning kits at the drugstore. Of course they used naptha (which is what real dry cleaners used, not gas), so they weren't *quite* as dangerous as gas. But just about.
Dry cleaners were *expensive* by the standards of the day. Partially because it was so dangerous. They tended to burn down a lot, and that affected insurance rates. If someone only needed to get a small stain off a dress or a shirt or coat, they were far more likely to use a spot of gas or naptha thna go to the dry cleaner. Now, washing out an entire dress in gas for 20 minutes as shown in this film... You would have to be particularly idiotic to do that. If you look at the statistics they gave on home accident deaths, about 140 people a day were that idiotic.
Several reviewers have mentioned that this film beats a dead horse to death, and *they* would never *dream* of washing something in gas in the first place, so just a mention not to would have been more than sufficient. Let me kindy suggest that modern people and depression people were different.
If YOU had a spot on your shirt that wouldn't come out, what would you do? Throw it away and get another one, of course. Anyone knows that.
But what if you lived in 1930 and had a job as a bank teller and had ONE coat and ONE white shirt, and you HAD to wear the coat and shirt to work 5 days a week or you would get fired for being sloppily or inappropriately attired. You would wash it every night and hang it in the kitchen to dry overnight. Now suppose a customer spills ink on your shirt. Here are your choices:
1. Leave the ink on the shirt and be repremanded for sloppy dress the next day. And if not corrected by the day after, you are fired. (Its the depression, you aren't going to get another job.)
2. Buy a new shirt. It costs the amount of money you will spend to feed yourself, your wife, and your children for a week. (I'm not kidding.) You have no savings (its the depression) so if you buy the shirt you and your family don't eat -- nothing, nada, zip, three non-meals a day) for a week. But you will keep your job and be paid at the end of the week.
3. Take the shirt to a dry cleaner. It only will cost you and your family THREE days of meals, not 7 days of meals.
4. Try to get the spot out of the shirt yourself, so that you can continue to feed yourself and your family (people would have said your family and yourself, in that order, back then).
These days of course you laugh at those silly choices. Just get a new shirt. If you don't have the money, the government will give you some. And if you like the old shirt with the rips and stains, heck, wear it to work as a bank teller. If you get fired you and your lawyer will be rolling in hog heaven for the next fifty years at the bank's expense.
Things were different back then. Really.
Subject: wild times
women douched with Lysol back then also.
Okay, so I wasn't born yet when this was made. So maybe housewives really did use gasoline to wash their clothes. Personally, I cannot imagine it. The stench of the clothes must have been horrendus. but what I'd like to know, is where they would play this film? Did it play on your local television station? At the movie theater before a feature flick, or did they round up the local housewives every month for safety films? They weren't like children and in school to be rounded up to the auditorium.
This film shows from my opinion the facts in a too harsh way. If YOU do not do it THIS way you have to suffer THAT consequences. Informing people ist good, but doing it the right way is better.
Okay, this film is tedious, BUT you've got to see it for the fire "special effect"! Just watch it - you'll see what I mean.
Subject: Oil Prices effect more than just my driving
With the price of gasoline these days I have been forced to stop washing my clothing by hand with gasoline and have reverted back to laundry detergent.
Subject: Housewife Burnout
Evidently, women washed clothes in gasoline during the Depression in order to save money on dry cleaning. If this film is to be believed, many women were killed and maimed when the gas exploded. We see a grim-faced housewife pour a can of gasoline into a basin and wash the clothes with her bare hands. Her lonely misery and incompetence are contrasted with a tour of the Reputable Dry Cleaning where clothing is also cleaned with gasoline, but under the ÃÂÃÂsupervision of men.ÃÂÃÂ IÃÂÃÂm sure the housewife would like nothing better than to get her cleaning done by Reputable, but if her family canÃÂÃÂt afford it, sheÃÂÃÂs out of luck. While she scrubs away, her children bother her, a kettle boils on the stove and a fire roars in the fireplace. Her life is an accident waiting to happen and sure enough, it does. The gasoline explodes. She runs from the house covered with animated flames and ends up burned and disfigured in the hospital. At least now someone will be taking care of her for once, instead of her endlessly taking care of other people. And what was she cleaning in that basin? Curtains? Her husbandÃÂÃÂs business suit? ItÃÂÃÂs scary to think of people walking around in gasoline-drenched clothes. And the workers at Reputable Dry Cleaning will not fare much better in the years to come. Their factory is filled with asbestos blankets, which the film claims ÃÂÃÂprotect the workers.ÃÂÃÂ TheyÃÂÃÂll eventually end up in the hospital as surely as the housewife did. This is a grim film about the consequences of cleanliness.
Subject: Too dumb for the short bus.
I mean, what kind of idiot washes clothes by hand, in the kitchen, with gasoline? I mean, Depression or no Depression, this is about the stupidest thing I have ever heard of anyone doing. I was laughing until tears were coming out of my eyes.
Subject: My clothes smell like gas honey, I told you to go to Reputable
This film points out how dangerous gas is, especially when used in the home. I am surprised this was such a problem, I can't picture washing my clotes in smelly gas. There are some other interesting comments on other household disasters, such as standing in front of the heater. The narrator tells us that "Jumping out of an airplane is safer". And smoking in bed is "nearly always fatal".
Christine Hennig -
Subject: This Film Made by a Reputable Dry Cleaner
This 1930s safety film, sponsored by the California State Fire Marshall, focuses on an unsafe practice that is rare today, but common back in the 30s: home dry cleaning using gasoline or other flammable liquids. We see a young housewife get badly burned in an explosion that happened while she was cleaning clothes with gasoline. We're also shown all the safety features a licensed dry cleaner has installed to prevent fire. It's more than a little obvious that safety was not the complete reason behind this film. Although home dry cleaning is genuinely dangerous, the dry cleaning industry seems to have more than a few fingers in this pie. Watch for the poorly-animated flames in the scene where the housewife gets burned. This film has another great item for the Film Ephemera Museum of Quirky Devices. Like Master Hands, it has its credits cast in bronzeÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂthere's even a "The End" plaque. But the plaque I really want is the one that identifies the business we see as a "Reputable Dry Cleaner".
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
Subject: Every Year From Accidents In Their Own Homes!
Woot woot! One of my fave films that Rick has FINALLY makes its debut on the archives, and yours truly gets to review it!
More Dangerous then Dynamite is simply about cleaning your clothes with Gasoline! Apparently this was quite common in the 1950's, after all, the "Reputable Dry Cleaning Company" uses it, so why can't you?? Ahh, but the Dry Cleaning company has safeguards in place! Like Steam windows! Doors! Blankets to cover dead bodies with and to drag them out! (yes, that IS shown). Mother doesn't have ANY of these precautions, so BOOM! Up goes the house, and well, mom too, as she's running out of the house with animated flames on her dress! (actually, the animation is quite interestingly cartoonish). So, once again, I beg to tell you, Every year from accidents in their own home! Watch the film to find out what they hell that means, it's one of the more classic goofs in euphermeral filmdom.
A MOOOCHO MUST SEE ON THIS SITE!!